We love our stuff. All of it. Whatever we have, we adore it. Why? Because it’s ours. That’s why it’s so infuriating when some petty criminal comes along and separates us from the stuff we worked so hard to acquire. So what do we do? We protect ourselves, that’s what. We shell out big cash for burglar alarms and locks and shatter proof glass and whatever gadgets we think will keep the crooks out.
And then what happens? Criminals take our stuff anyway, using some of the cheapest trinkets known to man. Here are five ridiculously cheap items crooks use to steal your shit.
Oh, big deal, you’ve known for decades that crooks use coat hangers to break into cars, right? And besides, most car manufacturers have put safety measures in place that prevent newer cars from being jacked with readily available wire hangers. If you’re still driving a car that can be broken into with a coat hanger, a criminal would probably be doing you a favor by stealing it.
Yes, that’s all true, but they can still use those coat hangers to get into something else. Are you currently storing anything of value in your garage? Not sure about you, but we keep our cars in those things. If you fall on the manlier side of the spectrum, maybe you keep some valuable tools out there. Maybe the entrance to your rape dungeon is in the garage.
Whatever you keep there is likely more vulnerable than you think, because a thief can finagle their way into a garage in about six seconds using a coat hanger, as shown in this handy video that made the internet rounds recently. Most automatic garage door openers have a manual release that, in a perfect world, can only be accessed from inside the garage. But by inserting a straightened wire hanger into the gap between the garage door and the garage, a thief can engage the manual release and commence to taking your shit. Comforting!
Remember those famous Master Lock commercials where someone would put a goddamn bullet right through a Master Lock and it still wouldn’t open? Maybe they should have fired paper clips at it instead, because those apparently do the job that firearms can’t.
We’re not sure what’s more disheartening for people who currently protect their valuables with a Master Lock, the fact that an article telling people how to defeat the locks using two paper clips is easily searchable on the internet, or the fact that the article includes a side bar with links to five more articles about how to break into locks.
But take solace in the fact that the instructions included in the article seem to be a bit light on details. We haven’t tried it, but we suspect the “moderately easy” tag applied to the article isn’t completely appropriate. But we felt the same way about the instructions included with that desk we bought from IKEA last week, and we managed to get that thing put together, barely.
Probably any pen will work, but we’re running low on pens around the office, so we’re hoping Bic will step up and send us some on account of the free publicity we just threw their way.
Anyway, the makers of Kryptonite bike locks (those gigantic U-shaped locks that damn near every bike rider uses) found themselves in the cross hairs of a national shit storm when someone on an internet forum for bicyclists broke the news that the locks could be opened using nothing more than the cylinder of a Bic pen with a few notches cut in the end of it. You can see video at this link of someone actually defeating one of the ubiquitous locks using the Bic pen method. But in all fairness, the pen in the video appears to be from Bally Fitness, so it’s probably in better shape than most other pens.
Even more damning was the news that the vulnerability was first discovered in 1992, but the company never did anything about it. A class action lawsuit ensued and Kryptonite eventually issued replacement locks. But those locks have been around a long time. There’s an excellent chance that plenty of bikes are still being “protected” by locks that can be picked using a cheap piece of plastic.
Kryptonite isn’t the only company in hot water over their sorry excuse for a lock. Kaba, a company that makes those push button locks that separate you from piles and piles of tasty Vicodin at your local pharmacy, is facing a class action lawsuit in the Cleveland, Ohio area after it was revealed that those locks can be defeated using a $30 magnet.
It should put your mind at ease to know that many of our nation’s airports are protected by these locks also. Wait, we mean it should terrify you, not put you at ease. Sorry about the mix up. They are also used at many hospitals, casinos and, ironically enough, the Department of Defense.
Lawyers for Kaba argued that the magnets required to pick the locks were so large that a person carrying them in their pants pocket would run the risk of being unwillingly attached to any metal object they passed by until they called 911 to be freed. That argument was rendered exactly as ridiculous as it sounds when attorneys for the plaintiffs produced video of a person picking one of the locks using a magnet small enough to control with one hand.
No, people aren’t fashioning a stack of Post-It notes into a brick and smashing windows with them, as great as that would be. But Post-Its are still a valuable tool for would-be burglars.
Since forever, when you want to relay a message to your entire family, few things have done the trick like a prominently placed note on the refrigerator. Emails get deleted, voice mail goes unheard, but only the staunchest of anorexics are able to miss the timelessness of a refrigerator note. We use them to keep track of kitchen items that need to be replaced, we use them to send passive aggressive taunts to our house mates and, often, we use them to remind ourselves of appointments that we must keep or things we need to do before leaving the house.
It’s those last two things that get you in trouble with the forward thinking home invaders of the world. A well placed note on the refrigerator that says “Pap Smear – 2pm” might as well say “shit available for thievery beginning at 2pm.” Michael Fraser, a reformed burglar who now works to protect people from having their homes broken into, says as much in a slightly more professional manner. “We all stick notes on the fridge, but chances are they’re visible from the kitchen window. Something which says ‘things to do before going away’ on your fridge is an open invite for a robber.”
He doesn’t mention Facebook status updates though, so we assume you’re still safe to announce to the entire internet that your home will be vacant while you backpack through Europe all summer, right?